Reddit Has An Interim Female CEO. But Will She Be Able To Solve Those ChokeABitch Forums

Here's hoping...

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by Stevie Martin |
Published on

Yesterday, Yishan Wong, CEO of now-infamous mass internet forum Reddit, announced his resignation due to being ‘basically completely worn out’ (and also reports of a spat involving an office move). A female interim CEO has stepped up in the form of Ellen Pao who Yishan hopes ‘will become permanent CEO’.

While Reddit is home to some brilliant threads – known as subreddits – such as /nostalgia (where Buzzfeed gets all its ideas for articles these days), /photoshopbattles (brilliant forum where people dick around with Photoshop with hilarious results) and /nottheonion (home to some amazing real-life stories that should be made up but actually aren’t), the ethos of this corner of the internet is that people are free to say whatever they want.

Which is why there are also the subreddits /rapingwomen, /KillingWomen, /ChokeABitch and /CuteFemaleCorpses.

READ MORE: Pro-Rape Reddit Thread Talks About How To Rape Women, And Reddit Responds Hearteningly

So the prospect of a woman running Reddit is potentially very interesting. Usually reserved for the internet literate, Reddit now hosts over 174 million users and has become a household name thanks to the subreddit containing the pictures from the recent celebrity nude pictures leak, known as The Fappening.

Reddit eventually took the subreddit down, but received criticism for its ‘sorry not sorry’ apology. Basically, the point of Reddit is not to censor. Whatever the content.

However, the Redditors have been pretty articulate upon finding out their new CEO is female – for a site constantly dismissed as ‘women-hating’ by media outlets who’ve probably never been on it, witch-hunters and your dad, it’s all very measured.

‘Reddit is a bazillion random people from the internet creating unending waves of pure chaos. Even if you can manage to moderate it effectively enough to make it not a shithole, a huge portion of the user base (and revenue stream) will bail,’ writes one Redditor. ‘It’s hard enough to change the course of an organization, but a free for all nuthouse like reddit? That's a challenge.’

READ MORE: Reddit Have Deleted The Fappening Thread . Oh But They’re Sorry Not Sorry

It’s a challenge that Ellen is going to have to be very careful about. Whether it’s feminists demanding she ought to shut down the misogynistic, darker side of the forum or those misogynistic, dark redditors waiting for her to make one wrong move before pouncing, there’s not really a lot she can do to challenge the status quo.

Challenges don’t tend to work with Reddit, anyway. In fact, the top comment in response to a recent post celebrating the fact she’s a woman simply reads: ‘Nothing will change’.

The subreddit /jailbait (celebrating underage girls who look older) was the first instance of Reddit censorship in 2011 after CNN criticised the site for hosting it in the first place – but the community manager who pulled the plug insisted it was due to a conflict between the subreddit’s moderators. It was the first challenge to the site’s free speech, and hardly a successful one considering the continued existence of those pictures on Reddit, if you know where to find them.

A year after /jailbait went down, /Creepshots (basically loads of candid upskirt shots taken without the women’s consent) suffered after Gawker planned to expose its moderator – so was also taken down. It simply changed its name to /candidfashionpolice and continues doing exactly the same thing to this day, but what do you expect from a site that thrives on the notion of absolutely no censorship?

Yishan Wong stated: ‘We stand for free speech. This means we are not going to ban distasteful subreddits. We will not ban legal content even if we find it odious or if we personally condemn it’.

READ MORE: Got Any Bikini Pics On Facebook? 20,000 Strangers Could Be Perving On Them Right Now

But then again, not everyone on Reddit agrees with this.

Some Redditors are glad that there’s an opportunity for change, whatever that change will be: ‘I’m glad to see [Yishan Wong] go because I can’t help but feel that his attitude and actions tacitly, if not actively, supported the worst types of behavior on reddit,’ writes one top commentor (and ranked as the ‘best’ on a thread entitled ‘Discussion thread: Reddit’s new CEO’).

‘He turned a blind eye to malfeasance and downright illegal behavior. And when called out on it, he had the audacity to justify his misfeasance with nonsensical ramblings about free speech and reddit as a new government.’

In fact, this discussion board features little to no comments on her gender, or the usual misogynistic crap you’d be forgiven for thinking Reddit is drowning in. It’s just possible that things might be on the up now it’s under new management.

Oh, and it’s effing cool that the CEO of one of the internet’s most influential websites is now a woman.

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Follow Stevie on Twitter: @5tevieM

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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